Microsoft Publisher for Mac has never been released but we’ve taken a look at the top ten best Publisher for Mac alternatives in 2018. Macs are actually far better than PCs when it comes to Desktop Publishing (DTP) and most professional publishers use Macs for designing magazines, newspapers, leaflets and other publications. From excellent but easy to use publishing apps like Lucidpress to professional publishing software such as Adobe InDesign, there’s something for all budgets and abilities. Here then is our list of the top 10 alternatives to Microsoft Publisher on Mac in order of ranking.
Lucidpress is from the makers of Lucidchart diagramming software, one of the most popular replacements for Microsoft Visio on Mac. Lucidpress has likewise become the best alternative to Microsoft Publisher for those on both Mac and PC with over 3 million users according to Lucid Software.
Lucidpress is incredibly easy to use and helps you to create extremely professional looking print and digital publications including magazines, newsletters, posters, flyers, reports, digital magazines and more.
There’s nothing to download with Lucidpress, the basic version is free to use and it works on any platform. You don’t even have to sign-up if you have a Google account as you can use your Google details to sign-in immediately and start using it for free immediately.
You can easily drag and drop elements, import text from Google Docs, add tables, buttons and insert interactive media such as YouTube videos. It’s also very easy to change the size of your canvas, undo edits and edit headers and footers in Lucidpress.
One of the most striking things about Lucidpress is the huge range of professional looking templates ranging from posters and invitations to gift certificates and business cards.
Templates are optimized for high quality 300dpi printing although note that this quality is only available in the Professional and Team Plans of Lucidpress. Free and Basic plans will also display on digital devices at 300dpi but paper printing will be limited to 100dpi.
All Lucid products are highly focused on team collaboration and Lucidpress is especially ideal for those working in an editorial team. The Pro and Team Plans of Lucidpress support anything from 2 to 200,000 users working at the same time and allow you to see who is working on what, leave comments and chat in real time to other members.
Editors can manage permissions of other users to limit commenting, editing or viewing. You can also see revision history so you can see who made changes and undo any unwanted changes instantly.
When it comes to sharing documents, Lucidpress is integrated with services such as Dropbox, Flickr and Facebook so that you can easily import images and graphics from them and also publish directly from Lucidpress to them. The export options are more limited than professional tools like InDesign but you can export to PDF, JPG and PNG for offline publication or embed them online in a website or blog.
Finally one unique aspect to Lucidpress is internal analytics. The Pro and Team plans of Lucidpress track how people are interacting with your publication and give you an fascinating oversight as to how users scroll, click and interact with your publications.
The basic single user version of Lucidpress is completely free to use but is limited to 3 pages and 25MB of storage. To remove these limits and get other benefits such as print quality PDFs, document embedding and premium templates, plans start at $5.95 per month. Lucidpress usually offer some pretty big discounts too if you subscribe annually rather than monthly. If you’re a K12 teacher or student, you can even get Lucidpress completely free.
Overall, Lucidpress can’t compare with industry leading professional publishing software like Adobe InDesign for serious designers and publishers but it certainly beats Microsoft Publisher. The overall number of features, templates and publishing power of Lucidpress is considerably better than Publisher and you can see a basic overview of some of the principal advantages of Lucidpress vs Publisher below.
You can try Lucidpress for free and judge for yourself what you think.
Adobe InDesign is easily the leading industry DTP software for Mac and long ago overtook QuarkXPress which used to be the number one desktop publishing software for Mac users. While Quark stagnated from lack of development and high pricing, InDesign has powered ahead and is now used professionally for everything from creating stationary, flyers, annual reports, calendars and posters to professional magazines, online interactive digital publications and e-books. The introduction of a huge number of royalty free professional images in Adobe Stock (Free Trial) means anyone can now produce professional looking publications without the need for a big design or imaging department. Adobe InDesign used to be out of the price range of non professionals but the introduction of Adobe Creative Cloud has made InDesign accessible to everyone. Students and teachers can even get 60% off the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite which is an absolute steal as it not only includes not only Adobe InDesign but more than 20 other industry leading Adobe apps including Photoshop, Illustrator and Lightroom.
Along the way, InDesign has become far more accessible to the average user too with an easier to use layout that’s closer to the Microsoft Office style ribbon interface and toolbox. Adobe has simplified InDesign a lot to appeal to a wider market and there are also plenty of easy to follow InDesign video tutorials to help you get to grips with the software.
You can now easily create multi-column text blocks, apply font styles or changes and wrap text around objects in a few clicks. Most impressive in InDesign however is the way it handles images. For starters, you can of course import high quality vector graphics from other Adobe apps such as Illustrator and Photoshop in a few clicks.
However, the most powerful resource is undoubtedly Adobe Stock which integrates into all of its Creative Cloud software. Adobe Stock is a huge repository of around 55 million royalty free stock images and videos including 4K quality. These are instantly accessible and searchable via the CC Libraries menu along the right hand side of InDesign. This means you can find and import high quality professional images and multimedia for virtually any subject which saves both time and money in sourcing images for your publication. You can also try Adobe Stock free for one month to see how good it is first.
Exporting to the format of your choice is now extremely well-integrated into InDesign meaning you simply have to click Export and choose the format of your choice such as EPUB, Flash, HTML, PDF Print and PDF Interactive.
Alternatively, you can publish directly online from Adobe InDesign for Mac to your own Adobe Portfolio site. You get 20GB of online storage space for publication and file storage with your Creative Cloud subscription and publishing to it is as simple as clicking the Publish Online button at the top of the interface. You can dynamically update publications you’ve already published too this way meaning it works well for news magazines. Note that anyone can view your documents online either via a public link or embedded in a website on any device without the need for extra plugins or a Creative Cloud account.
Another plus of InDesign Creative Cloud integration is that you can start designing or creating publications on your iPad and then continue working on it on your Mac. Alternatively, you can create publications or designs on your Mac and make last-minute edits or corrections on your iPad on the move.
InDesign for Mac is the ultimate desktop publishing software due to its range of features, general ease of use for a professional DTP software on Mac and ability to publish to all formats. The integration with Adobe Stock allows you to produce truly professional results without the need for expensive and time-consuming photography. Although InDesign definitely takes longer to learn and get used than many of the alternatives featured here, the long-term benefits and payback are worth it, particularly if you’re planning to create a commercial publication or are a professional publisher.
InDesign costs $19.99 a month if you sign-up annually and all plans include 20GB of cloud storage and your own portfolio site with premium fonts. It may however be wiser to subscribe to the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite depending on your needs. A subscription to Creative Cloud costs $49.99 but includes access to all of Adobe’s industry leading apps such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Premiere Pro. Students and educators get 60% off the entire Adobe Creative Cloud which you might as well go for than pay $19.99 for just Adobe InDesign alone. There are also special pricing plans for teams and businesses.
You can also try a free trial of InDesign for Mac so you can judge for yourself before buying.
Swift Publisher is an impressive, user-friendly and slick desktop publishing software for Mac that’s become increasingly popular as a cheaper desktop alternative to InDesign and MS Publisher. Swift Publisher is made by Belight Software who are also the team behind Printworks (see review below) and one of the best home design software for Mac, Live Home 3D. If the monthly or annual subscriptions of Lucidpress or Adobe products are not for you, Swift Publisher provides an excellent value for money desktop publishing software for Mac for just $19.99 (and there’s also 30% off for non-profits and academics).
The good thing about all Belight products like Swift Publisher is that it doesn’t require lots of learning like professional DTP software for Mac but produces professional looking results. Swift Publisher is ideal for producing bulletins, flyers or brochures and makes rearranging elements such as images, tables and text very easy. Similar to Apple’s Pages desktop publishing software (see review below), there are 300 professional looking templates which you can customize the way you want.
Swift Publisher is also integrated with iPhoto and Aperture and you can export your work to PDF, JPEG, EPS, TIFF and iCloud. You can also define bleeds and configure correct DPI for print publishing. There are also lots of easy to follow video tutorials to get you started with Swift Publisher although we found you still sometimes have to Google certain functions to work out how to do them. Stability also seemed to be an issue when working with lots of images but for pamphlets, flyers and straightforward publications, it works very well.
If you want an easy to use alternative to Microsoft Publisher without a steep learning curve or monthly subscription fees, then Swift Publisher is an excellent and economic option. You can try Swift Publisher for free to judge for yourself.
Printworks is a more recent product from Belight Software, the makers of Swift Publisher (see review above). While Swift Publisher is more focused on page layouts, Printworks is designed for desktop publishing tasks of all kinds from brochures and calendars to CD labels and business cards. If you need to create branded stationary for a small business for example, Printworks would be a better solution than Swift Publisher as it’s designed for publicity of all types (see a full comparison of Swift Publisher vs Printworks here).There are over 500 free templates to choose from including bi-fold and tri-fold brochures, address labels plus there are additional free Printworks templates here. Most things are included in the purchase price of Printworks ($29.99) but you can also buy 40,000 royalty free clipart images for an extra $9.99. Printworks feels a bit like a more basic but user friendly version of QuarkXpress with useful two-page spread views, master pages for repeat content and unlimited layers. Other smart Printworks features include the ability to import audio tracks from iTunes, import your Apple Contacts, print on CDs and DVDs, support for TouchBar Macs and Google Maps integration. Printworks was also one of the first desktop publishing software for Mac to officially support macOS High Sierra. You can try a free trial of Printworks to see whether it’s right for you.
It’s clear that Publisher Plus is heavily inspired by Apple’s Pages (see Pages review below) but has tweaked the user interface a bit to make it faster to use. There’s also Publisher Plus Lite which allows you to edit Microsoft Publisher files for free although it only allows you to edit or create a few limited pages and you have to buy the full version for $39.90 to unlock the entire app. One of the common problems with Pages is that for those that are used to Word, it can feel a bit un-intuitive to use with menus and tools constructed in a slightly different “Apple” way of doing things. Publisher Plus has a more familiar Windows feel to it and is as a result now one of the most popular alternatives to Publisher on Mac available.
However, there are a few disadvantages to be aware of. For example, there are plenty of templates available – over 170 in fact ranging from Magazines and Posters to Newsletters and Certificates – but the quality of them isn’t quite as professional as in Pages or Swift Publisher. There are other limitations too such as the text tool which doesn’t allow you to configure a style and there a fewer choices when it comes to drop shadows. That said, if you compare it side-by-side with MS Publisher, Publisher Plus actually has more features although it should be stressed, only if you upgrade from Lite to the full version of Publisher Plus. The pricing for Publisher Plus is a bit confusing as you can get it direct from the developer for $39.90 with a 30 day money back guarantee or $19.99 from the Mac App Store. Your best bet is probably to try to Publisher Lite from the Mac App Store for free first and then upgrade to Publisher Plus if you like it.
Overall, if you’re trying to create a magazine, advertisement, flyers, resume or business card, Publisher Plus is generally an excellent desktop publishing software.
Pages is the Apple equivalent of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher and used to be part of Apple’s answer to Microsoft Office, iWork. Pages can do both word processing and desktop publishing and so allows you to create anything that’s possible with Microsoft Publisher. If you’re used to Microsoft Word, it can take some time to work out where the equivalent functions are in Pages but it’s well worth the effort. With lots of professional looking templates and layouts, you can create some really professional results using Pages.
Pages does have its drawbacks though. Working-out how to format things, insert tables and move elements around the page isn’t as easy as it should be but again, all it requires is familiarity with how Pages works. Some users are also disappointed at recent versions of Pages which they feel aren’t as good as previous versions with some features removed or not as easy to find as before. Be aware that there isn’t much support for Pages or many tutorial videos either so if you get stick, you’ll find yourself having to Google the answer although Pages is so widely used on Mac, you’ll always find the answer somewhere.
Note that if you’re using OS X 10.10 Yosemite and above, you don’t need to buy the entire iWork suite to get Pages – you can download it separately from the Mac App Store for $19.99.
iStudio Publisher is an extremely user-friendly and powerful DTP software for Mac users. If cloud solutions like Lucidpress or professional publishing software such as InDesign are not your thing, iStudio Publisher is an excellent desktop alternative to Publisher on Mac. iStudio Publisher produces professional results and yet is very easy to get started with thanks to the well thought out video tutorials and Quick Start Guide. Creating brochures and documents is very easy – you can simply drag and drop images and text boxes into a page and export the final product to PDF. The only slight downside is that you can’t import and export Microsoft Word DOC files but you can insert content from Word files via RTF, TXT, PDF, and various image formats (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, PSD, AI and EPS). You can also export to PDF and ePUB.
For those that need to send the document to professional printers, iStudio Publisher also gives you the ability to work with colors in different colorspaces such as RGB and CMYK which isn’t very common on with consumer level Desktop Publishing Software on Mac and an essential option if you’re planning to get your documents professionally produced. And if you have any problems or questions, we can speak from experience that the developer is also very quick and helpful which isn’t always the case with DTP software on Mac. If you want a value for money user-friendly desktop alternative to Publisher but don’t want to be locked into a monthly subscription, iStudio Publisher might be for you at just $17.99. And if you’re not sure whether to go for it, you can also try a fully functional free trial of iStudio Publisher before buying.
If you want to create interactive documents on your Mac, then FlippingBook might be for you. FlippingBook is a clever online desktop publishing software for Mac that is extremely easy to use and doesn’t require you to download anything. FlippingBook can be used for creating interactive documents, books, magazines, catalogs or brochures. What’s clever about FlippingBook is that it can make digital documents have a vintage paper look and feel to them to give them a more original touch. The page flip effect in particular looks really cool and feels like browsing a genuine print publication on your Mac or iOS device. We like the way you can import PDF or HTML5 documents into FlippingBook and it automatically then coverts them to a paper feel format.
FlippingBook automatically optimizes all publications to display as well on desktop as they do on mobile devices and you can even embed them into blogs and websites. You can other useful elements like a table of contents, embed videos in documents and even pop-up images on pages. All pages and publications can be branded with your own logo or background and you can choose to host your publications on your own server or with FlippingBook Cloud.
FlippingBook could be described as an interactive desktop publishing software and while it’s not a direct replacement for Publisher on Mac, it’s definitely a more interesting and creative software. It’s a bit pricey at $40 per month for the Starter version going up to $180 per month for the Advanced version but if you’re looking to really impress clients or customers on a regular basis, it’s probably worth it. Note that although you can use FlippingBook online, there is also a FlippingBook desktop client for Windows although none for Mac as yet.
There are basically no free alternatives to Publisher on Mac that have comparable features and functionality, although LibreOffice (see review above) is about the closest you’ll get to a free version of Publisher on Mac. There is however also Scribus which doesn’t have the features and polished interface of the software covered so far but is definitely worth checking-out if you’re on a strict budget.
Scribus is a powerful professional free open source desktop publishing application which can do pretty much everything that Microsoft Publisher can and more. It has plenty of templates to choose from including for brochures, newsletters and posters. There’s no reason you can’t produce professional looking publications with Scribus as these examples show.
The main toolbar across the top of Scribus provides all of the main functions and there is a sliderule along the margins to help you be exact with your designs and layouts. As is typical with open source software however, you have to feel your way around Scirbus to get used to it. There is an extensive Scribus Wiki but it’s quite dry and there are no tutorial videos to follow.
Scribus isn’t updated very often as it relies on a small group of volunteers to keep it running so bear that in mind if you’re expecting lots of new features and updates regularly. Note that you also need to install Ghostscript on your Mac in order for it to work. There is no official developer support either although there is a Scribus community forum where you may find answers to your problems. If you want a free alternative to Publisher on Mac though, and have time study the manual, Scribus is a very powerful DTP program for absolutely nothing.
No review of desktop publishing software on Mac would be complete without a mention of QuarkXPress. QuarkXPress used to be the industry standard for Desktop Publishing on Mac many years ago but has suffered from a lack of development and competition from InDesign on Mac. However, the latest version of QuarkXPress is a huge improvement and if you’re looking for a professional desktop publishing software without a monthly subscription, it might be for you (it doesn’t come cheap though at $349).
QuarkXPress is probably the most expensive DTP software you’ll find but it is easily the most well-known and established Desktop Publishing Software among professional publishing houses. However, its market share has taken a big dent over the past decade due to an increasingly bloated design and from the rise of Adobe InDesign and the incredibly powerful Adobe Creative Cloud suite. 20 years ago QuarkXPress was the industry standard DTP program on Mac but increasingly became slow, bloated, buggy and generally left behind. Quark has traditionally been the choice of professional publishers, magazines and newspapers so if you’re only looking for a simple alternative to Publisher, it’s also quite a complicated package to get your head round.
However, QuarkXPress has attempted to recover ground from Adobe with the release of QuarkXPress 2016. Some of the most notable features of Quark 2016 are the new color picker tool and ability to export HTML5 publications which InDesign can’t do as yet. There are other things QuarkXPress can do that InDesign can’t too such as the ability to convert PDF and AI files for editing, vertical kerning, gradients with different opacity settings and custom optical margin alignment for example. Note that you can’t open InDesign files although you can copy and paste InDesign items into QuarkXPress.
The new QuarkXPress is certainly an improvement on previous versions and one other strong selling point is that unlike Adobe InDesign, Quark 2016 doesn’t require a subscription. It’s just a one-off purchase of $349 for the desktop software which may appeal to some users looking for a professional desktop publishing software for Mac. For this price, you get a perpetual license with 60-days of free support, free dual activation, a cross-platform license for Mac and PC and ongoing access to free updates. If you’re intending to do some serious DTP work and want to produce high quality professional publications without a monthly subscription like InDesign, then QuarkXPress is definitely worth looking at. You can try a free trial of QuarkXpress to judge for yourself.
We’re sure that by using one of the solutions or alternatives to Publisher on Mac featured here you can live without Microsoft Publisher. As we’ve seen, there are many cheaper, competent alternatives to MS Publisher on Mac and Lucidpress still remains the best. Adobe InDesign is however the leading professional desktop publishing software for Mac.
The disadvantage is that design software such as Adobe InDesign, Lucidpress, and Flipping Book all require a monthly subscription which is an increasingly common software payment model nowadays, especially when it comes to design software of all kinds. Subscription based software has the advantage that there’s no need for costly upgrades, no big installation process and you can usually use it on any Mac, anywhere. In the case of Adobe InDesign, you can also get all of Adobe’s apps such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Premier included for a few dollars more if you subscribe to the entire AdobeCreative Suite. The disadvantage of course, it does lock you into a monthly payment plan whereas software such as Publisher Plus and Pages require only a one off payment. However, it’s likely that most software will move towards online subscriptions eventually so in the long run so bear this in mind when making your choice.
If you want a Mac desktop software with a one off purchase and no subscription model involved, Swift Publisher and Printworks are both surprisingly powerful, easy to use and value for money desktop publishing apps for Mac.
If you want to import a .PUB file into one of these applications, check out our guide on how to open Publisher files on Mac.
If none of these Mac alternatives to Publisher are what you are looking for, then check out our guide on how to run Publisher on Mac. Note that contrary to what some Mac users think, you can’t use Publisher on Mac via Office 365 online. All Office 365 apps are linked to the desktop apps and since there is no desktop version of MS Publisher on Mac, it isn’t available to Mac users via Microsoft Office 365 either.
If you need to scan or digitize a document and then edit or import the text into one of these apps, check out our comprehensive guide to OCR software on Mac.
If you need to merge or combine a PDF on Mac after using one of these Publisher alternatives, you may also find our guide on how to combine PDFs on Mac useful too.
If you have any other problems, questions or issues with these Publisher substitutes on Mac, let us know in the comments below.